Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 248..
MR BARR (continuing):
the supply of land, including major en globo releases to the private sector, and increased resourcing to the ACT Planning and Land Authority to ensure planning runs well ahead of demand; reduced stamp duty for first-home buyers under the home buyer concession scheme at a cost of $1.5 million annually; deferred stamp duty for eligible purchasers at a cost of approximately $300,000 per year; budgeted for $4.3 million to Housing ACT to construct or purchase approximately 17 two-bedroom units over the next year; adopted new planning codes to permit compact housing blocks in new estate areas; and, most recently, provided a $50 million loan facility to Community Housing Canberra.
The housing affordability action plan also included recommendations for streamlining procedures for the release of land for housing. In particular, the action plan foreshadowed the development of procedures for over-the-counter sales of housing blocks. A number of amendments in this bill are designed to implement these measures.
The bill is further evidence that housing affordability has the highest priority for this government. The amendments achieve these measures in three main ways. Firstly, they permit over-the-counter sale of leases for single dwellings. This will enable ACTPLA or the LDA to sell leases for single dwellings over the counter without first having to obtain approval from the minister or the executive.
Secondly, the bill includes measures to help ensure that land allocated for housing is in fact used for this purpose and is not left undeveloped. The measures are intended to ensure that land that has been released is developed in a timely manner and therefore is effective in fulfilling the strategy and purpose of its release. The new sections 298A and 298B establish a framework to better manage issues around non-compliance with building and development provisions in respect of the starting and completing time frames. They also create a clear disincentive to not develop land in a timely manner or to engage in land banking.
Thirdly, there are a number of process matters. When the government's housing affordability action plan was released in April last year, there was insufficient time to settle the detail of these measures anticipated in the action plan prior to the passage of the Planning and Development Act in August. It was important to get the detail with these matters right, and as these amendments are significant and extensive it is also appropriate that they are made available for further scrutiny by the legal affairs committee as well as by other Assembly members.
I now turn to the provisions in the bill concerning the power of inspectors to enter private premises to take compliance action. ACTPLA is responsible for ensuring compliance with planning legislation and the territory plan and for responding to complaints. In order to investigate complaints and take appropriate action, the authority's inspectors must be able to enter relevant premises. As the Planning and Development Act stands, entry to private premises can only be made with the consent of the occupier or under the authority of a search warrant.
These options will often be of little use because the occupier is absent or refuses consent. A search warrant is only available for the investigation of a particular offence and not for the investigation of complaints or verification of compliance with an order.